Every five years our country witnesses General elections or the Lok Sabha elections that decide the fate of the country. But this time something is different, the mood is different. The country’s two biggest rivals – Congress and BJP are labeling it as their fight and then the dream of a Third Front never ends.
Amidst all this, a year-old party has surfaced and is going to fight the state elections for the first time and that too from the capital city of Delhi. This is a political party that was formed on the backdrop of the India Against Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare in 2011. Though Anna is no where associated but one of the chief architects of the IAC and the popular RTI Act – Arvind Kejriwal had gone further to form his own party – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or common man’s party on the 26th of November 2012.
With no political backing and limited resources, the party has made its presence felt by connecting to the hearts of the common man in the capital. With promises to unearth corruption from the system by giving the nation the much awaited Jan Lok Pal bill, AAP is also challenging the political nexus for the first time in the country after independence.
Beyond doubt, Arvind and his party workers today have become a force to reckon with, in the forthcoming elections that is all set to happen this winter on December 4, 2013 amidst all kinds of pressures.
Apart from being a party that stands for values in politics, AAP has gone the length and breadth of Delhi in connecting with its citizens. In the mean time, AAP has been growing its presence on social media too like others, but the party’s growth has been an organic effort on the medium. Ankur Shrivastav, a volunteer who has been working hard along with a few others to get AAP’s voice heard on social media since last year, has shared the growth story of AAP on social media.
This also gave me a chance to share some questions with Arvind to know his thoughts on social media as a medium that has been adopted by political parties and at the same time is being criticised by the government for instigating riots in the country. The social activist turned fierce politician took out time from his busy schedule and has answered the questions via an email conversation.
Shared below are the edited excerpts of the interview.
Prasant Naidu: How do you see social media growing as a new medium of promotion, connecting with voters and being liked by Indian political parties?
Arvind Kejriwal: Social media will become a key channel for citizen interaction, organization & action. We are already seeing people come together on social media to influence policy making. This will only grow in coming times.
PN: Do you think social media can make a difference in influencing voters and in the coming elections.
AK: Social media provides a convenient, “always on” channel for people of similar ideology to come together & interact. We believe Social media going forward will not be about “influencing” but “shaping” opinion, policies further.
PN: What has been the objective of AAP on social media and do you think it is being achieved?
AK: Social media has been an important channel to get people who dream of a corruption free India together. It started with India Against Corruption. When we decided to launch Aam Aadmi Party, we got tremendous response from people on the social media. We have not looked back since. We have new people getting added to our page and helping us evolve. Critical public opinion/feedback is received through this channel. In that regard, our objective of Swaraj (people participation in the movement) has been furthered with Social media. This is a journey that will continue.
PN: Your thoughts on the growing trend of controversy and lynching each other by political parties and their supporters on social media.
[pullquote id = “lhipull” class=”right_pull”]A blanket ban on social media is not a solution[/pullquote]
AK: True, there have been several such incidents in the recent past. But this is more about those who are using the channel in a negative manner as opposed to the channel itself. A blanket ban on social media is not a solution, instead mechanisms for effective moderation against racial abuse, violent or threatening and other such negative sentiments should be put in place.
PN: Social media regulation has been the agenda of the government for some time. Your thoughts on it and do you really think that it helps instigating riots in the country.
AK: As I said above, it’s not the channel but the way some people tend to use them that is a problem. Effective moderation policies are where the solution will come from, not from criticizing or banning these channels.
PN: You are very active on social media yourself. Do you think it is required in today’s times when a lot of politicians still avoid it?
AK: Social media is here to stay. We have to adapt to it, or we will not be able to connect to people.
Apparently, AAP is going in the right direction when it comes to social media usage. Great to know that this is one political party that believes social media is for connecting to people.
Image courtesy: Facebook